I am going to preface this rambling blog with the revelation that Insane Mama and her cathartic blogging and the empathetic listening ear of my cousin (that has just recently re-entered my life), have emboldened me to relate some of my own painful history. Not that I will be able to weave a story in the same fascinating way that IM certainly does, but hopefully, it won't bore you to tears, or at least I hope it doesn't.
The end of August into Labor Day 2002, proved to be a fact-finding week-long medically necessary mission to learn what was causing my mother's ill health. She had had pneumonia two to three times in the previous 12 months and was developing a puny appetite, fatigue, and sallow color. The pulmonologist told her he saw a spot on her lung on x-ray, but didn't think it was anything. She became short of breath and my step-dad took her to the ER where I met up with them. The ER physician did routine blood tests and told her that her enzymes were elevated and because of that and the spot on the lung, he felt her symptoms could be serious. In other words, "The Big C." She was admitted to the hospital and after a lengthy couple of days, finally, an oncologist, Dr. Beck was summoned and informed mother and the family she had terminal, small cell (the lightening quick growing kind) carcinoma of the lower lobe of the left lung which had metasticized to her liver. He recommended chemo. Momma agreed to a round of cancer drugs. I will come back to this part of the story in a while, but first let me enlighten you into the mother/daughter relationship that my momma and I shared.
I don't know how Mother felt when she was told, she never said, but I felt like a ton of bricks had been dropped on my chest. For years, my mother had been my best friend, my confidant, the one I went to for every little thing. I called her three, four, five times a day. She was the one I spilled my guts to about my life with the mentally ill, perverted, lunatic I was married to. I am going to admit to something that some of you may already know, some have guessed at or concluded, and some don't know at all. I was a very selfish, end-all/be-all taker when it came to my mother. She gave and gave and gave of herself to me and I took it all. I soaked her up like a sponge. I wanted everything she touched. Apart from my daughter and my three yorkies, Momma was my life. She made me whole. That information probably sounds like I was co-dependent, but it wasn't like that. It's just because of my non-existent marital relationship, I needed the support that my Momma had always given me. My daughter was growing up and was out of the house more and more with her friends and I was left with "nada" at home.
My mother was "The Rock." Even though her mother had so many mental issues, momma never, not once, showed anyone that she was not in full control. I try to mimic her strong nature and capability, because she always had the stance of "never let 'em see you sweat." All through my growing up years, even after my dad had his stroke, she was "The Rock." Even when she was dying, she was brave and courageous, but I wasn't. I think I sucked some of the remaining strength out of her, just with the realization that I needed her so badly and my time with her was running out. I couldn't get enough time with her, so I quit sleeping pretty much, quit taking my Ambien, so I could sit up with her during the night. I slept fitfully in a recliner in her room and hardly ever left her side.
I don't believe there were/are very many women like my momma. I know I am certainly not as stong and courageous as she. I have failed time and time again to be as brave a woman as she. We are not all meant to be Zena, the Warrior Princess or Wonder Woman. I guess my strength was diluted from genes of my father. He was a good man, but certainly not the stronger of my two parents.
When I divorced my first husband at age 18 (after only 6 months of marriage; he was physically, verbally, and mentally abusive and adulterous), it was very shameful to me that I was the first person in my family to get a divorce, no matter what the reason, I was the first person to ever get a divorce in my family!!! I came home and curled up in a fetal position in my bed and cried every night, not going anywhere except to work for the next four years of my life. Mother would climb up in behind me at night and hold me and rock me, smooth my hair and soothe me with her voice and tell me everything was going to be all right. And she was right, it was.
I remember when the movie "Beaches" came out on television. Mother and I sat on the couch side by side and watched it together holding hands. Even then I took some of her essence into me, as I laid with my head on her shoulder, and cried, but then I realized we were crying together. She told me that I was her best friend and definitely she was mine. When momma died I was reminded somewhat of that movie. I would have done anything for that woman. While she was ill we watched Ya-Ya Sisterhood and I was reminded of how fragile mother/daughter relationships can be and thought about what my momma's childhood must have been like with my grandmother (my grandmother was schizophrenic). My momma was "The Rock," but a Rock that was so gentle, so tender and loving, she took/takes my breath away.
When my daughter was just 3 months old, my ex had his 1st bi-polar episode, my Momma begged me to divorce him. I believe she was afraid he would do something to my daughter and/or myself. I just wouldn't believe it. Over the years she would ask me to divorce him, but for the last five years of her life, she would beg me everyday to divorce him. She knew what he was doing to my psyche and to my soul with his perverted nature and emotional neglect. I wish I had listened to her sooner. I just didn't want another divorce under my belt (still felt shameful, still do to this day).
I apologize for the digression, but you have to understand our relationship before you can ever understand the depth of my grief. I am not trying to say that the depth of my grief is any deeper a sadness than other's who have lost parents/loved ones. I am just eschewing my misfortune of pain and loss. Also remember, in my preface, I did mention a tendency for rambling. Anyway, the beginning of September 2002, began a very arduous, saddening, four month long sojourn, that I am just now beginning to bring out of my subconsciouness and let ping around in my memory bank. This story has to be told over several posts (sorry), way too lengthy for just one, as I have to let my thoughts catch up to my fingers...so until next time.